Interview Preparation 

Preparation for interviews is key, and as the saying goes “failing to prepare is preparing to fail.” This is very true so here are some pointers that will help you to prepare.

Company

Research the company on the internet, understand what they do, the market they are in and, if possible, who are their competitors. You are unlikely to be quizzed extensively, but you will be expected to know the basics. If you want to make notes on cards or in a notebook that is OK, a potential employer will not have a problem with this.

If you have been invited for interview directly by a company, ask what the format of the interview will be. Employers will not mind you asking, and it will help you better prepare.

If you are submitted by an agency ensure that you ask the same question, but also, as they will know their client, ask them about the culture of the company, as this will also help you prepare as you will understand more about their expectations.

Job Specs/Job Descriptions

In a perfect world there will always be a job description and person specification, but unfortunately this is not always the case. If not, do not panic, the employer will explain the role in the interview. It will not allow you to do a lot of preparation in this area, but in such circumstances review the advert and use that as a point of reference.

If there is a description/specification available review each point and compare it to your experience and skills. A good tip is to make notes as to where you gained that experience or skill, and if you can demonstrate of situations you will not go far wrong. To have it written down will help you, and again if you want to, take the notes with you. It will help you relax as you can always refer to them. It is not an issue to take notes in as you are showing the employer that you have thought about things and prepared.

Make sure you know your CV. It is likely that you will be asked to talk through it, so have a copy with you.

Prepare some questions. You may find that they have been answered during the interview but have them in your back pocket. If they ask if you have any questions tell them that you did, but they have been answered.

Different Types of Interview

Telephone Interview these are a quick way for employers and agencies to screen your suitability before submitting your details, if it is an agency, or inviting you to a face-to-face meeting if it’s a company. Telephone interviews tend to be relatively short and are used to establish your current situation, your motivations, what you are looking for and why you are looking for a new opportunity. Have all your preparation notes with you.

Physical face to face:

• Establish the company’s Covid protocols ie no hand shaking, social distancing etc

• Ensure you know where you are going

• Carry out a dry run if possible

• Clarify the dress code but if in doubt dress smartly

Virtual Face to Face

• Find a quiet place where there will be no interruptions

• Test your equipment to make sure it is working

• Dress smartly, you may be at home but treat it as a normal face to face meeting

Virtual interviews are becoming the new norm and everybody, including employers, are finding their feet, so it is something to be embraced, not feared. Making personal reference to your location can be an ice breaker and can help set the tone of the interview. These are strange times so use the changes to your advantage.

The types of questions that can be asked at these interviews include:

Verification these are effectively fact checking questions based on your CV.

Competency based  this is where you will be asked to explain or give examples of how you have dealt with particular situations which will link back to the job description and will enable the interviewer to match your experience against the role.

Behavioural these are to understand your approach to situations and give an insight to you as a person.

Nonsense these are not used as frequently but can include questions such as “if you were an animal, what animal would you be?” These are used to see how you think on your feet. 

Assessment Centres

Assessment centres are used most frequently when a client is looking for more than one person. It gives employers the chance to assess candidates’ skills and interactions within a group environment and make comparisons.

They are made up from a mixture of tasks and activities which are designed to assess certain skills. These can include groupwork, problem solving, presentations and psychometric tests. In most cases, when an assessment centre appointment is confirmed you will receive an agenda for the day, but not details of the tasks themselves unless they specifically want you to prepare something in advance.

Of course, now assessment centres are not being carried out due to the pandemic, but you never know, they may become virtual.

General Advice for all Interviews

• Prepare, prepare, prepare

• Be yourself

• Know what you want from the interview, do not forget, it is a two-way meeting

• Try not to be nervous and do not panic

• Try to enjoy the interview.

Post Interview

If you are submitted for a role by an agency always call them to give your feedback. They can feed your thoughts back to their client. You may want to ask them to pass on your thanks for the interviewer’s time, and they can do this either verbally or in writing.

If you applied direct and the interviewer gave you their contact details, send a thankyou email. It never does any harm to be polite.

With regards to chasing feedback, establish the timescales that have been set and chase it up.